Let’s face it. Intestinal tumult ain’t fun, and it doesn’t make you feel pretty either. The truth is that much of this discomfort comes from some scary stuff—food poisoning.
Responsible for 2,500 deaths each year in the United States alone, food poisoning—caused by the invasion of foreign bacteria into your system—usually manifests itself with vomiting, diarrhea, and your promise to swear off the culprit forever.
While you can’t restrict yourself to plain rice, you should be aware of the toxins that can make your night a nightmare.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are 20 to 100 cases of food poisoning that go unreported, for each reported case. Why? Most people blame the heaves on a 24-hour bug.
Another reason: It usually takes 24 to 72 hours for the food-borne illness to kick in, so you often won’t associate potentially bad food with sickness. Salmonella can take three days for symptoms to appear. E.coli can take up to eight days.
Yet another reason for misdiagnosis? People have misconceptions about food poisoning. They may think the food will smell or taste bad, tipping them off to whether or not it’s spoiled. But toxins and germs often won’t change the taste.
Also, home foods are not necessarily safer than restaurant food. There are 50,000 to 2.5 million severe cases of food poisoning each year. The wide range of estimates reflects how poorly reported this condition is. Your best defense is proper food preparation and storage.
If you’ve seen an unsavory practice in a restaurant, let the management and board of health know. This includes mopping the floor and making your pizza, or a worker not washing their hands. You’re not being a snitch; you’re saving yourself and others from food poisoning.
At home, make sure your food reaches the temperature of 165 degrees on the inside for at least 15 seconds. (you’ll need a food thermometer to confirm, since oven temperature does not correlate to the inside temperature of meat or fish.) Just because food isn’t red or pink on the inside doesn’t mean it reached the temperature, either.
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